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Inside FutbolInside Futbol

06 October 2018

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Mexico

2012/13 Mexican Primera Division Apertura Season Preview




Rebranded as the Liga MX, the league formerly known as the Mexican Primera Division is back for the 2012/13 season. The first tournament of the campaign, the Apertura, promises to be fiercely contested at both ends of the table, with the best teams from 2011/12 largely holding onto their key players while others have made some potentially exciting signings from outside Mexican shores. 

There are also new owners at San Luis, a Dutch revolution in Guadalajara and major changes to playing staff and/or coaching personnel at both Pachuca and Puebla, all of which will help keep intrigue high over the course of the campaign.

Inside Futbol previews the hopes of all eighteen Liga MX clubs ahead of the Apertura kick-off.


America

Miguel Herrera secured himself the Club America job on a full-time basis by leading the club to the semi-finals of the 2012 Clausura and has added wisely to his squad with the signings of Adrian Aldrete and Efrain Juarez, in addition to a potentially game-changing wildcard in the form of Rubens Sambueza. 

There is an air of relative stability around Las Aguilas that will surely be disconcerting to those used to the madness and confusion that have recently reigned supreme at the second most successful club in Mexican football history. If prolific Ecuadorian striker Cristian Benítez stays fit there is no reason to suggest Herrera’s men can’t conjure a repeat performance of their Clausura exploits.

Key Arrivals: Adrian Aldrete (Morelia), Efrain Juarez (Celtic, Scotland), Rubens Sambueza (Estudiantes Tecos)
Key Departures: Matias Vuoso (Atlas), Oswaldo Vizcarrondo (Released)
Prediction: Playoff Semi-finals



Atlante

Atlante had the worst defensive record of any team in the 2012 Clausura – conceding 31 goals over the course of the campaign – and have done little to right this deficiency during the off-season transfer market, the arrival of goalkeeper Jorge Villalpando notwithstanding.

Fiery coach Ricardo La Volpe is back for a third spell in charge of the Potros de Hierro and is likely to have his work cut out in his attempts to drag the club away from the lower reaches of the table, despite signing the ever reliable Chilean striker Esteban Paredes. With the threat of relegation beginning to loom, things look ominous for the Cancun based club. 

Key Arrivals: Ricardo La Volpe (Coach), Esteban Paredes (Colo Colo, Chile), Jorge Villalpando (Atlas), Ignacio Torres (San Luis)
Key Departures: Jorge Hernandez (Tijuana), Mario Ortiz (Puebla)
Prediction: Bottom Four



Atlas

Atlas scored a pitiful seven goals in the seventeen matches of the 2012 Clausura and have made an assertive move to improve that figure by signing experienced goalscorer Hector Mancilla, forwards Matias Vuoso and Luis Sandoval, and Ecuadorian attacking midfield Luis Bolanos.

The Guadalajara-based club begin the 2012/13 season second bottom behind newly promoted Club Leon in the three-year averaged relegation table and will be desperate to pick up points from the off. If their defence can maintain the solidity that saw the side finish 11th in the Clausura in spite of their goalscoring woes a decent campaign may await.

Key Arrivals: Hector Mancilla (Tigres), Matias Vuoso (America), Luis Sandoval (Necaxa), Luis Bolanos (Internacional, Brazil)
Key Departures: Giancarlo Maldonado (Mineros de Guayana, Venezuela), Alonso Zamora (Tigres UANL)
Prediction: Just Outside The Playoffs 



Cruz Azul

With a trio of quality new signings to strengthen an already solid squad Cruz Azul will be looking to re-establish themselves in the upper echelons of the Mexican game by ending their 15-year search for a ninth league title success.

New coach Guillermo Vazquez displayed a ruthless streak by discarding strikers Edixon Perea and Emmanuel Villa soon after taking on the role, bringing in the experienced Argentine Mariano Pavone and Mexican international wide-man Pablo Barrera in their place. The signing of Colombian international defender Luis Perea should also help to shore up an occasionally porous backline and allow La Maquina to, at the very least, reach the playoffs.

Key Arrivals: Guillermo Vazquez (Coach), Mariano Pavone (Lanus, Argentina), Pablo Barrera (West Ham United, England), Luis Perea (Atletico Madrid, Spain)
Key Departures: Emmanuel Villa (UNAM), Jaime Lozano (UNAM), Edixon Perea (Released)
Prediction: Playoff Quarter-finalists



Guadalajara

Chivas underwent a Johan Cruyff-led Dutch revolution in the off-season and although most of the work has been focused on the youth set-up it will be fascinating to see how much of the Dutch philosophy filters through to the first team, now led by former Melbourne Heart coach John Van’t Schip.

The astute signing of Luis Perez from Monterrey adds experience and invention to the centre of midfield and with some promising youngsters also breaking through Chivas look well placed to improve on their dismal showing in the first half of the year. However, judging by their pre-season matches, poor defending is likely to curtail any ambitions of title success. 

Key Arrivals: John Van’t Schip (Coach, Melbourne Heart), Luis Perez (Monterrey), Rafael Marquez Lugo (Morelia)
Key Departures: Jonny Magallon (Leon), Alberto Medina (Pachuca)
Prediction: Playoff Quarter-finalists



Jaguares 

Jaguares enhanced their reputation as the great entertainers of Mexican football with some thrilling performances in the second half of the 2012 Clausura, culminating in a 6-4 aggregate loss to eventual champions Santos Laguna in the playoff quarter-finals. However, with prolific top-scorer Jackson Martinez now departed for Europe, a less cavalier approach may be required to extend their run of consecutive playoff appearances to three.

To this end, coach Jose Guadalupe Cruz has signed the promising Colombian defender Leyton Jimenez, although that is unlikely to be sufficient in consideration of a flaky midfield further compromised by the loss of the hard-tackling Jorge Hernandez. The most southerly of the top division’s clubs will therefore do well to prevent their league position slipping in the same direction.

Key Arrivals: Leyton Jimenez (Medellin, Colombia), Jhon Cordoba (Envigado, Colombia), Elgabry Rangel (Estudiantes Tecos)
Key Departures: Jackson Martinez (FC Porto, Portugal), Jorge Hernandez (Pachuca)
Prediction: Mid to Lower Mid-table (11th-14th)



Leon

Back in the top flight for the first time in ten years, five-time league winners Club Leon are intent on making a splash on their return. After comfortably sweeping promotion rivals aside in an undefeated 2012 Clausura they have been able to hold onto their key players and also make some shrewd additions in preparation for the challenge ahead.

Experienced Mexican international defender Jonny Magallon joins from Guadalajara, while the talented but inconsistent attacking midfielder Edgar Pacheco arrives on loan from Tigres UANL, where he was unable to consolidate the promise of his early career at Atlas. Coupled with the pacey Colombian Hernan Burbano and prolific Uruguayan striker Sebastian Maz, Leon have a squad that looks capable of a competent first campaign back in the big time.

Key Arrivals: Jonny Magallon (Guadalajara), Edgar Pacheco (Tigres), Matias Britos (Defensor Sporting, Uruguay)
Key Departures: None
Prediction: Mid to Lower Mid-table (11th-14th)



Monterrey

CONCACAF Champions League winners and 2012 Clausura runners-up Monterrey enter the 2012/13 campaign having done very little business in the off-season, with just one new signing to parade at the Estadio Tecnologico. This is mostly representative of the strength of their squad, which now includes four regular Mexican internationals after Severo Meza and Jesus Zavala deservedly earned themselves spots in the country’s starting eleven.

However, the loss of experienced, inspirational midfielder Luis Perez to Guadalajara leaves a large hole in the centre of team that will be very difficult to fill. Monterrey still have one of the best squads in the league, but Perez’s departure is likely to see them fall just short of previous successes.

Key Arrivals: Edgar Solis (Guadalajara)
Key Departures: Luis Perez (Guadalajara)
Prediction: Playoff Semi-finalists



Morelia

Morelia finished fourth in the 2012 Clausura, but were thrashed by Tigres in the quarter-finals and have lost a few of their most important players in the off-season. Talented, hard-working wide midfielder Edgar Lugo departed for Santos Laguna, defender Adrian Aldrete for America and selfless striker Rafael Marquez Lugo for Guadalajara.

In their place arrived speedy, skilful yet inconsistent forward Jefferson Montero – a significant investment at €3.5M from Villarreal – Anthony Pedroza, Francisco Torres and Carlos Morales, signings that should, in conjunction with the continuity of instinctive striker Miguel Sabah, be enough to allow the club to again make the playoffs.

Key Arrivals: Ruben Omar Romano (Coach), Jefferson Montero (Villarreal, Spain), Anthony Pedroza (Crystal Palace, England), Francisco Torres (Atlas), Carlos Morales (Santos Laguna)
Key Departures: Edgar Lugo (Santos Laguna), Adrian Aldrete (America), Rafael Marquez Lugo (Guadalajara), Jaime Lozano (UNAM)
Prediction: Playoff Quarter-finalists



Pachuca

Pachuca made it to the playoffs in both tournaments last season, but after failing to progress beyond the quarter-finals stage in either have invested heavily in the off-season in an attempt to ensure greater success this time around.  

Former Mexico national team coach Hugo Sanchez takes the reigns and has brought in a number of players, including the Spanish striker Raul Tamudo, solid Paraguayan defender Paulo da Silva and speedy winger Nery Castillo, all of whom arrive directly from European clubs. Allied to some solid domestic signings and an already strong squad, they make Pachuca a near certainty to reach the playoffs once more, although title success is still likely to elude them.

Key Arrivals: Hugo Sanchez (Coach), Raul Tamudo (Rayo Vallecano, Spain), Paulo da Silva (Real Zaragoza, Spain), Nery Castillo (Aris, Greece), Jorge Hernandez (Jaguares), Nestor Calderon (Toluca)
Key Departures: Edgar Benitez (Toluca), Carlos Rodriguez (Toluca)
Prediction: Playoff Quarter-finalists



Puebla

Puebla endured an average 2011/12 season, finishing 12th in both tournaments with a negative goal difference both times. In the off-season they have lost the creative instinct of the former Liverpool forward Luis Garcia to UNAM, and the goal threat from midfield of Lucas Silva, who has joined Toluca.

In their place come a glut of signings, the most of astute of which is the arrival of Argentine striker Matias Alustiza from Deportivo Quito. Since the turn of the year Alustiza had scored 17 goals in 19 starts for his former employers and if he can continue such form in Mexico he is certain to help Puebla improve their goal difference. However, with other teams also having strengthened a dramatic rise up the table for Los Camoteros seems unlikely.

Key Arrivals: Matias Alustiza (Deportivo Quito, Ecuador), Matias Abelairas (Vasco da Gama, Brazil), Isaac Romo (Queretaro)
Key Departures: Luis Garcia (UNAM), Lucas Silva (Toluca)
Prediction: Mid to Lower Mid-table (11th-14th) 



Queretaro

Pre-season at Queretaro is never a serene time as the club relies heavily on loan players who return to their parent sides to be replaced by another bunch of temporarily-signed young prospects and ageing professionals. This off-season has been little different with upwards of 13 new players joining the club, plus a new coach in the form of the experienced Carlos de los Cobos.

It is therefore difficult to judge how the Gallos Blancos are likely to perform in the Apertura. In the equivalent competition last year they caused a big upset by making the playoffs on the back of the goalscoring exploits of Carlos Bueno, who returns following six months at San Lorenzo of Argentina. On form he can be a game-changer, but even so the safe bet would be for Queretaro to find themselves in the league’s lower reaches come the end of the campaign.

Key Arrivals: Carlos de los Cobos (Coach), Carlos Bueno (San Lorenzo, Argentina), Diego Vera (Liverpool, Uruguay)
Key Departures: Liborio Sanchez (Guadalajara, on to Veracruz), Emilio Lopez (San Luis), Jose Pérez (Cobreloa, Chile)
Prediction: Bottom Four



San Luis

After finishing joint-last in the 2012 Clausura big changes were expected at San Luis in the off-season, although few could have predicted the magnitude of the revolution that did occur. Nacer Global purchased the club from Televisa, appointed a new president (Enrique Borja) and coach (Jose Luis Trejo), and rubber stamped a number of new signings, among them a trio of promising South Americans.

Also arriving at the Estadio Alfonso Lastras are tricky Queretaro winger Emilio Lopez and Tigres forward Emmanual Cerda. However, despite all the changes one thing is likely to remain consistent and that is San Luis’ league position. Small improvements aside, this is still a team destined for the lower reaches of the table.

Key Arrivals: Jose Luis Trejo (Coach), Santiago Trellez (Medellin, Colombia), Andres Cadavid (Deportivo Cali, Colombia), Sebastian Fernandez (Danubio, Uruguay), Emilio Lopez (Querétaro)
Key Departures: Alfredo Moreno (Tijuana), Anibal Matellan (Argentinos Juniors, Argentina)
Prediction: Bottom Four



Santos

Reigning champions Santos Laguna have maintained a stable squad over the off-season, adding the Mexican international Edgar Lugo to their ranks and suffering no significant losses.

With a strong, solid defence, Juan Pablo Rodriquez adeptly pulling the strings in midfield and an attack that includes the brilliant, fleet-footed Carlos Quintero, the direct and powerful Christian Suarez and the intelligent movement and assured finishing of Oribe Peralta, Benjamin Galindo’s men will take some stopping.

Key Arrivals: Edgar Lugo (Morelia), Oswaldo Alanis (Estudiantes Tecos)
Key Departures: None
Prediction: Champions



Tigres

Tigres won the 2011 Apertura and reached the semi-finals of the 2012 Clausura, and with a stable squad are well placed to continue that success into the 2012/13 season. Built around aggressive pressing and a strong defence, their limited summer transfer dealings indicate that coach Ricardo Ferretti is content with the players at his disposal.

His only concern will be replacing the 14 goals provided by last season’s top goalscorer Hector Mancilla. New striker Luis Garcia Fernandez has only managed 13 in his last three seasons in Spain, and thus Ferretti will have to rely on Edno and the highly-touted youngster Alan Pulido stepping up to the mark to provide the necessary firepower. If they can, another strong campaign awaits.

Key Arrivals: Luis Garcia Fernandez (Real Zaragoza, Spain), Taufic Guarch (Estudiantes Tecos), Rene Zamora (Atlas)
Key Departures: Hector Mancilla (Atlas), Edgar Pacheco (Leon)
Prediction: Runners-up



Tijuana

Tijuana pulled off a surprise by reaching the playoffs in the 2012 Clausura before falling at the quarter-finals stage to eventual finalists Monterrey. The key to their success was an incredibly mean defence that conceded a league-best eleven goals in the 17 matches of the campaign.

All components of that defence return for the 2012/13 season, although it is difficult to see them conceding so few goals again this time around, especially in consideration of the loss of the tough-tackling Uruguayan midfielder Edigio Arevalo Rios, who played a vital role in protecting them from attack. Ecuadorian forward Fidel Martinez will provide a creative spark up front, but it is doubtful that will be enough to prevent Tijuana slipping out of playoff contention.

Key Arrivals: Fidel Martinez (Deportivo Quito, Ecuador), Jorge Hernandez (Atlante), Alfredo Moreno (San Luis), Cristian Pellerano (Independiente, Argentina)
Key Departures: Edigio Arevalo Rios (Palermo, Italy), Jose Sand (Racing, Argentina)
Prediction: Mid to Lower Mid-table (11th-14th)



Toluca

Toluca finished in lower mid-table in both tournaments last season and arguably come into the new season with a weaker squad than last year following the departures of regular starters Martin Romagnoli, Aureliano Torres and Nestor Calderon.

Of greater concern is the heart problem-enforced retirement of Ivan Alonso. The Uruguayan striker scored 25 goals last season, 57% of Toluca’s total, and new signings Juan Carlos Cacho and Edgar Benitez appear ill-equipped to offer a similar contribution this time around. With all this taken into consideration, Toluca are likely to find themselves towards the bottom of the table come the end of the Apertura.

Key Arrivals: Enrique Meza (Coach), Juan Carlos Cacho (UNAM), Edgar Benitez (Pachuca), Lucas Silva (Puebla)
Key Departures: Martin Romagnoli (UNAM), Aureliano Torres (Penarol, Uruguay), Nestor Calderon (Pachuca), Ivan Alonso (Retired)
Prediction: Bottom Four



UNAM

The Pumas of UNAM suffered a poor 2011/12 season, missing out on the playoffs in both tournaments and finishing 14th in the Clausura. Renovation was always going to be required in the off-season, and with a new, hungry young coach in Joaquín del Olmo and some interesting signings coming in, the Mexico City club are likely to be greatly improved.

Scoring goals was Pumas’ main problem in the Clausura campaign, but having added the inventive Luis Garcia, consistent net-finding of Emanuel Villa and a goal threat from midfield of Jaime Lozano to their ranks, they have surely now alleviated those difficulties. Expect them to be in and around the playoff places come the end of the Apertura.

Key Arrivals: Luis Garcia (Puebla), Emanuel Villa (Cruz Azul), Jaime Lozano (Cruz Azul), Martin Romagnoli (Toluca)
Key Departures: Juan Carlos Cacho (Toluca)
Prediction: Just Outside The Playoffs